It's taken a while but here is the second part of the compassion and mercy post!
In my distress I called to the LORD,
and he answered me.
From the depths of the grave [a] I called for help,
and you listened to my cry. Jonah 2:1
How many times have I felt like that? How many times have I cried out to the Lord in my distress? More than I could count in my lifetime. I think most of us have. The really cool thing about this verse is the last 5 words… “You listened to my cry.” Mercy that’s what that is. This is one of the attributes of God that I so often get stuck on. I can think and think and think about it, but somehow I cannot get my mind around the mercifulness of God. How is it that every time we get ourselves thrown into the stormy sea due to disobedience we call out to the Lord and he listens to our cries? I don’t deserve that. I don’t deserve God’s mercy in my life, yet He gives it each time I ask for forgiveness. Totally amazing to me!!
Read the rest of what Jonah says to God in chapter 2 – I think these are similar words I may have uttered if it had been me in the stormy sea and in the belly of the fish.
5 The engulfing waters threatened me, [b]
the deep surrounded me;
seaweed was wrapped around my head.
6 To the roots of the mountains I sank down;
the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you brought my life up from the pit,
O LORD my God.
7 "When my life was ebbing away,
I remembered you, LORD,
and my prayer rose to you,
to your holy temple.
8 "Those who cling to worthless idols
forfeit the grace that could be theirs.
9 But I, with a song of thanksgiving,
will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
Salvation comes from the LORD."
10 And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
God’s mercy – Jonah said all this, poured his heart out, acknowledged that God was his Salvation and then after the fish vomited Jonah out he went and did what God asked him, but as we talked about before, Jonah lacked compassion – and as it turns out mercy – for the people of Nineveh. And yet, God had mercy on him.
Mercy is defined by Webster as: compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one's power; also: lenient or compassionate treatmentThink about this – God knew (even before He ask Jonah) how the whole thing would play out. He knew Jonah’s heart – and he knows mine – and He knew that even thought He would show Jonah great compassion and mercy that Jonah would still lack those same qualities when the “deal was done.” Why wouldn’t God ask someone else to go? Why wouldn’t He use someone with a heart more aligned with His? Why would He show compassion and mercy to Jonah in the belly of the fish, and then AGAIN with the weed that grew to shade him? Why would he use someone so unwilling to show love and mercy to others whom God also loved? I believe it’s because weather we like to admit it or not, Jonah is just like most of the rest of us – willing and happy to do God’s will when it suits us, not so happy when we don’t want to. Yet God shows us mercy by continually forgiving us and loving us and allowing us to walk in fellowship with Him.
I think this whole book in the Bible is totally for the purpose of teaching me (well and maybe others too) how important it is to have the heart and qualities of our Lord and Savior. I need to really be aware of my heart and my life and all the many areas where I should be showing more mercy and compassion and less judgments! I have been given an undeserved gift of salvation, and I sure didn’t deserve it.